Last night, Ben Zobrist signed a four-year, $56 M deal with the Chicago Cubs. The fallout to that deal seems to be that the second base market is opening up. Today there were rumors that two different teams are looking at Neil Walker as a trade option, although in each case “option” is about the extent of the rumor for now.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets are looking at Walker among other players after missing out on Zobrist. He said they have “some interest” in Walker, but are skeptical a trade will happen. Bill Brink also hears that the Mets are interested.

The Angels are the other team with reported interest, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. They currently have Johnny Giavotella, but could be looking at an upgrade. Walker was listed as one option, along with Kolten Wong, Brandon Drury, Chris Owings, and Brandon Phillips. I’m not sure how many of those guys are actually being shopped by their teams, and how many are guys who just make sense to mention in trade rumors, without info on whether they are actually available. But it shows that Walker might not be the only option for these teams.

The Walker market could extend beyond the Mets and Angels. One factor here is that Daniel Murphy and Howie Kendrick are still free agents, which leaves some options available. But a team that doesn’t want a commitment of more than 1-2 years (like the Mets) could decide that Walker is the better approach.

UPDATE 12:08 PM: Add the Nationals to the mix of teams interested, according to Jon Heyman:

UPDATE 12:45 PM: A few more Walker rumors, including Rob Biertempfel saying the Angels are very serious.

The Angels seem like the perfect team for a Walker trade, just because of the excess of pitching. I’ve seen about six media members saying that Hector Santiago seems like a good fit, although nothing concrete about what the Pirates might be looking at from the Angels.

UPDATE 1:58 PM: Bill Brink is reporting that a discussion with the Mets involved Jon Niese. The 29-year-old lefty has one year left on his contract, plus two team options with buyouts. He would cost $30M over the next three years if they chose to keep him. Niese made 29 start and four relief appearances this year, posting a 4.13 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, with 113 strikeouts in 176.2 innings. He has made 169 starts over the last six years and he has a 3.91 ERA over 1068.1 innings during his career. Niese posted a 3.40 ERA in both 2012 and 2014.

UPDATE 2:49 PM: The rumors to the Mets are picking up some traction, although it seems that the Mets are saying the asking price is too high.

I’d have a hard time believing that it’s just Niese for Walker, and if it is, that would explain the “high asking price” rumor. At his best, Niese has been a 2+ WAR pitcher, and is under control for three more years at a reasonable salary. He’s coming off a down year, but that shouldn’t sink his value. Walker is a 2.6 WAR second baseman, under control for one season. A straight up deal would clearly favor the Pirates.

UPDATE 2:56 PM: The Mets look to be closing in on Walker.

UPDATE 3:09 PM: Kristie Ackert clarifies her tweets, saying it’s not close:

UPDATE 3:20 PM: A lot of reports that make this deal sound close, or at least a good chance of getting completed.

UPDATE 3:22 PM: Looks like the deal is done.

Assuming it’s a straight up trade here, as Buster Olney tweeted that the deal would be a swap for Jon Niese.

UPDATE 3:25 PM: Rosenthal says it’s Walker for Niese.

Some analysis to come shortly.

UPDATE 3:27 PM: Some quick thoughts on Niese. He was a 2+ WAR pitcher every year from 2011-14, with a combined 3.70 ERA and 3.60 xFIP during that time, along with a 7.1 K/9 and a 49.6% ground ball rate. He had a down year in 2015, although it wasn’t horrible, with a 4.13 ERA and a 4.11 xFIP. As we know, the Pirates have had success getting pitchers back to their best values. If they can get Niese back to his pre-2015 numbers, this would be a huge deal for them.

Walker was projected to make $10.7 M in arbitration, and Niese is making $9.5 M guaranteed in his deal. He makes $9 M in 2016, with a $10 M option and a $500,000 buyout in 2017. If that option is picked up, he has a $11 M option and a $500,000 buyout in 2018. If he gets back to that 2+ WAR a year pitcher, then having him for up to three years and $30 M would be a huge value. It’s also possible they could deal him in the future after the prospects in the minors start to arrive.

It looks like this is a one for one swap:

The flip side to all of this is now the Pirates have a hole at second base that needs to be filled. It’s also going to be interesting to see what the Pirates do in the rotation. For example, this deal could allow them to sign another starter, then deal someone like Charlie Morton for Mitch Moreland. For now, the rotation is Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Locke, until Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon arrive.

UPDATE 6:18 PM: The Pirates make the trade official. Some quotes from Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly:

“This is a true baseball trade in the sense that it helps fill an immediate need at the Major League level for each club,” said Huntington. “We have liked Jonathon for some time now. He is an established veteran left handed starter who will fill an immediate role in our rotation, with the potential for two additional years under contract.”

“We greatly appreciate Neil and all he has done for our club, both on the field and in our community,” said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. He has always represented his hometown team with a great sense of pride and passion. For that we thank him and wish him and his family nothing but success as he continues his career in New York.”

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404 COMMENTS

  1. Now that Walker is a Met, I liked the trade. But How do the Pirates replace the Left Handed Power, with Alvarez and Walker now gone….I think the ONLY Left Handed Bat
    with Power is Polanco . And he hit what? 9 HR’s….Bucs are now missing, 43 HR’s from the Left side.

  2. To paraphrase Badger Bob, it’s a bad day for baseball in Pgh. Neil’s value to the Pirates went far past WAR and UZR. He did a lot for the area and will be missed by many. Besides, we gave up one of the best offensive 2B who seldom made errors and turned DPs better than most. In return we got someone who probably wouldn’t have been in the Mets rotation.

  3. One thing I will feel bad about with Niese is that he’s going to have a harder time with the fans I think. It wont be his fault, but he will held to a higher standard since he was the guy traded for Walker.

  4. Please give me props when I tell u now that Alen Hanson will become a BEAST starting today!!! He sees his ticket just got Punched!!!

  5. Neise is a good pitcher to have for PNC park, I think his home run rate will drop, he will also being playing in-front a more competent infield, the Mets infield especially middle infield was horrid last season. I don’t like the history of shoulder issues.

    The Mets got more value in this deal, Walker provide power and offense from a position in which that is rare. If the Pirates were set on moving Walker I think it is reasonable to want a better return.

  6. Sure will miss seeing Walker on the field. He was a big part of the turning of the tide for this team. Will miss rooting for the hometown kid as will my wife since she had a little baseball crush on him. I wish him the best in the future and hope he’s the “real deal” for the Mets.

  7. Either this guy is overpaid or we need to drastically increase our baseline payroll! 10% of your payroll for this guy is out of line. Can someone please clarify this?

    • that is another thing i am pensive about this year….we have lost our top HR guy, our 2b, batman and jim benedict (hope he wasnt more important than the bucs have let on)….all i see thus far is salary cutting – much like the bucs of old

  8. I think what some are losing sight of, is that we are in the central division….please raise your hand if you feel that the bucs have surpassed the off season moves of the cubs and cards? has the bucs improved themselves to finally be a better team than the cards and cubs? better than the dodgers? the mets? the royals? i am not sure..

    • The pirates are never going to “win” the off season. Not with teams like the Dodgers, Cubs, etc. spending ridiculous amounts of money because they can afford to overpay. What the pirates will do is string together a series of smaller moves to improve the team or fill gaps. This team went from 100 losses to 98 wins in just a few short years. And it wasn’t because they made big off season splashes. Sure not all the moves have worked out, but there has been more hits than misses.

  9. Reading thru these comments is like de ja vu of the ja happ trade all over again. A few of us were eating crow after that one.

    • something i dont see mentioned much here is that we gave up a pretty good offensive 2b IN HIS FREE AGENT YEAR….if Walker stays healthy and hits .300 with 30 bombs, im not going to give a rats @55 about Niese giving us a 10-11 record over the next 3 years

    • Neise was put on waivers if the pirates wanted him or even liked him they would have gotten him then instead of happ. Completely different. Especially since burnett could have still been coming back from his injury, they needed a replacment at the last second, and this time they are giving up a major league talent not a prospect.

      • Wasn’t he out on revocable waivers in August? If so then no they couldnt have gotten him instead of Happ as he was acquired at the deadline.

  10. I know people are saying Niese was better for 3 years prior to last year and so forth.

    If they do nothing else (outside of a Kendrick or Masterson) they need 2012 Jon Niese. Anything less wont get them beyond the last 3 seasons.

    The decline in K’s with the shoulder is a concern.

  11. Daniel Murphy is a free agent. Baseball Reference lists him as a 1st baseman also. Could he platoon at first and also cover other positions?

    • They just took on $30M in salary. Oh and if he’s a bomb we can cut him loose , oh and he’s got a better long term prognosis to stick in the rotation than Neal has sticking at 2B.

      Love this trade.

    • Here it is, from the article:

      “If they can get Niese back to his pre-2015 numbers, this would be a huge deal for them.”

      And:

      “I’d have a hard time believing that it’s just Niese for Walker, and if it is, that would explain the “high asking price” rumor. At his best, Niese has been a 2+ WAR pitcher, and is under control for three more years at a reasonable salary. He’s coming off a down year, but that shouldn’t sink his value. Walker is a 2.6 WAR second baseman, under control for one season. A straight up deal would clearly favor the Pirates.”

      There you have it and there it is.

  12. I’m a Huge fan of Neil Walker. I wish he could have been moved to 1st Base because it does not look like we will have much more than Michael Morse but this is a very good deal. You can almost guarantee Niese will get better with the Pirates. He should be a pretty good #3 if they are done adding starting pitching which I hope they aren’t. This gives us a solid Lefty option in a division where our 2 biggest opponents struggle vs lefties and we have him for up to 3 years if we want him. Our depth at 2nd base is looking very deep. Harrison ( who I do not like as a starting option since he swings at everything between the steps of the dugouts) but he will be an upgrade defensively with Kang at 3rd, plus they have two very good prospects in Hansen and Moroff. I dig it but where will the power lost from losing Pedro and Walker come from?

    • I guess you didn’t see the player a and player b chart that compared two pitchers on a ton of pitching metrics. Both players where very very close down the board. Player a jon neise, player b jeff locke. It is a joke of a trade. You traded a legitimate hitting 2nd baseman for 3 years of jeff locke to b ur #3. If kang is not ready for opening day you have no one to play 2nd currently that actually played in the majors. How exactly do you feel good about things when we are far worse and everyone else we are competing with is getting way better.

      • This is a smart move . I’m sure Niese and Locke do compare last year. Niese did have a down year in a park where they moved the fences in. This guy had a 3 year span where he was one of the best lefties in baseball.. You don’t think he will get better in our park with our brilliant pitching coach? I sure do and from a value standpoint possibly 3 years of Niese at under 10 million per with the market at what it is , is a major value move. This front office has made mostly good decisions for a long time now.enough to give me to give them the benefit of the doubt. Pirates fans including me in the past over value Neil Walker

          • And you can say what you want about walkers defense which isn’t good but not a detriment. He is one of the best offer some 2b in baseball

            • Neise at best had two ok years and a bunch of average to below average. How your coming up with one of the best lefties in baseball is confusing and comical.

              • Also neise played his whole career in a pitcher friendly park. Plus I think if any team also knows how to get most out of pitchers it would probably be the mets

            • Walkers range at 2b about the worst in all of mlb. That’s the truth. Defense will be much improved. They will miss his bat for sure. And he’s a great guy a local guy and trades like this suck. But a year from now he would be leaving anyway. It happens. No way would walker take the move to 1b and the salary cut it would require. And no way should the Pirates have signed him for 3+ years as a 2b at 12-14m per. No way. All the other politics and internal stuff is not really that impactful of reality.

  13. It seems to me that a key factor is the option years for Niese. One year of Walker control is traded for 1 or 2 or 3 years of Niese’s control. If his performance returns to what it was prior to last year (or better, after the Pirates work with him) you have a good pitcher for a reasonable rate for the duration of your choice. Who knows where the pitching market will head over the next couple of seasons. Also, the defense on the right side of the infield will now (hopefully) be markedly improved, a problem that cost them on more than one occasion last year. Take this as one piece in what will likely be a few more transactions before they’re finished……

  14. My question is which player is a championship player, and I think Neil is more than Niese, however a 29 year old LH pitcher who hits 93 per Pitch FX and has a solid track record for 3 years. Hard to pass on that for 1 year of Walker.
    A solid deal, but emotionally and championship wise… not sure about it. I guess I was looking for a different bat rather than this pitcher, but his peripherals are actually pretty good.
    3 lefties in the rotation now…

  15. If Niese is healthy this fills a desperate need for 2016 and is a wash in terms of talent and money. The fact that we can extend the deal through 2018 makes it a win for the Pirates. The best thing about this trade is we no longer have a gaping hole with our top 15 players.
    We now need to strengthen our starters, infield, and bullpen.

    My wish list would be to get Kasmir, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Bastardo.
    -Kasmir would slot in at 3 move Niese and Morton to 4 and 5 with Locke becoming injury insurance (Worley’s role last year)
    -Cabrera is a little out of the box but he is a good enough SS to push Mercer to the UT role.
    -Bastardo would just make me feel better about the pen

    • I also like Cabrera. Fills in at 2B while Kang is recovering, and could prove to be an upgrade over Mercer at SS after that. Either way, he would strengthen the bench, whichever of Mercer or Cabrera performs better.

  16. Three thoughts.
    1) I guess this means that Kang must be closer to ready than we think.
    2) Sounds like we still need at least one more big left handed bat.
    3) What happens if we get an infielder hurt?

  17. Nice pick up, but I am sad to see Neil go. He has been a big part of this team and I wish him well. Now extend Cervelli, sign Kazmir, trade Melancon, and use some prospects to bring in a 1B who can hit and play D.

  18. Oh my GAWD!!!! People are kvetching because the FO is paying too much for a good player they got in a trade?? As soon as we buy retail they yell that we should be dumpster diving. LOL… I love this trade and expect a lot more shoes to drop.

    • Funny thing is, I’m reading Twitter and it’s Mets fans griping about this trade as they thought Herrera should be playing 2B.

      Oh, and they’re worried about Neil’s health.

      • I looked up his minor league stats when I heard the mets wanted a 2B. He destroyed the bal in LV last year with a 900 OPS (granted that’s a hitters league). Mets must not have much faith in Herrera if they were willing to give Zobrist 4 years.

        • And trade for Walker when they didn’t get him.

          Kid looks like he owns the minors…I would’ve given him a shot and wish the Bucs could find a way to wriggle him back.

          • I love the idea of getting Herrera back inthge trade but my bet is they see him the way we see Bell… not ready for prime time on a playoff team.

  19. I think Niese has to pitch better for this to make sense.

    It is kinda weird. You’re reluctant to pay Walker 10 and Melancon 10. But you are okay paying the Mets 5th starter 3/30 potentially?

    • I’d like someone to explain the rational behind this, because I don’t see how the Pirates gained much financially or talent-wise as far as their rotation is concerned. Is Niese $5.5m better than Lock on an annual basis?

    • But that’s before Searage gets his hands on him. The FO obviously has complete faith in their ability to get pitchers back on track. Niese is left-handed with extreme GB numbers which play right into what they try to do in Pittsburgh. And like somebody else said below, if they can’t get him on track, the 2nd and 3rd years are options.

    • Over the last six seasons, even including last year’s bad campaign, he’s averaged 170 IP and a 3.84 FIP. He’s a left-handed, ground ball pitcher.

      I don’t have a problem with this move.

    • It’s not the money on this its value and need. Not ten mil in value for an aging fielder with back problems and platoon splits. Trade walker now and recoup value, or lose to free agency – assuming we are buyers again at the deadline

  20. Goodbye Neil – loved having you as a Pirate, will hate seeing you elsewhere. Thanks and good luck.

    GO BUCS.

  21. This is a trade of two solid players with declining value. I guess it’s pretty expected.

    I would have liked more, but really, they’re pretty similar. Both had a decent stretch of strong seasons. Both had down years last year. Both have injury concerns. Both should be at least useful this season. They just play different positions.

  22. Baseball industry source tells me the Pirates’ interest in Scott Kazmir has intensified this afternoon, esp. now with Walker off books.

    According to Matt Gajtka

      • I’m guessing it’s not so much that Walker is off the books but that they now have a reliable back end pitcher to free up Locke or Morton for a trade. More a falling into of possible roles than a financial thing.

          • By ERA, Locke was only better once in their careers, by FIP, only this past season was Locke better than him, and the differences in Niese’s favor were half a point. Niese walks fewer and gets more ground balls, and he and Locke have similar strikeout rates. So yeah, probably, especially if Niese gets back to where he was for most of his career.

          • No. But Locke is going to the pen in the second half when either Taillon or Glasnow is promoted in June. Locke has always been a one half pitcher, and is better suited for the pen to limit his innings anyway.

  23. If NH is thinking that our #3 thru #5 will be Niese, Morton, and Locke, say hello to third place.

  24. I’m not gonna sit here and be a hater so I will applaud this trade and getting rid of Walker who could only hit a fastball. I couldn’t stand watching him in the batters box miss with the same uppercut swings on the same breaking balls. He was predictable. My prediction now would be for Neise to replace Morton and send Morton to Texas for Moreland(and hopefully a lil more) then sign my favorite in Doug Fister to a 1 year deal. Hopefully I didn’t steal a suggestion. It’s my 1st one.

  25. I spent a lot of time in the NYC media market over past couple of years. As a former Mets fan before moving here, I follow the team when I’m out there.

    Niese has a history of missed starts due to real or perceived shoulder issues. It’s been recommended in the past that he get rotator cuff surgery. Last year – his down year – he changed his arm angle to relieve stress on his shoulder.

    With that info, unless Ray has a Plan B, he’s not going to get Niese back to throwing the way he did in his best seasons without damaging Niese’s shoulder.

    Not sure what the Bucs are thinking of here and why it’s Walker who has to get medicals cleared and not Niese.

  26. I for one like this deal Niese is a solid number three at a decent price. With uncle Ray helping this could be a huge deal for the pirates, and we have the second base answer in house with Kang progressing ahead of schedule, Harrison moves to second, Kang to 3rd Hansen a bench option come july.

  27. I will wait until all the chips fall, before making a final conclusion on this trade. At first pass, I’m not crazy about it for three reasons. #1 – I think Walker is a better second baseman/hitter than Niese is a starting pitcher. Neither are stars, but I think Walker has been the better overall performer. #2 – Niese is really just marginally better than Morton or Locke. If the Pirates are intending Niese to be the #3, I am very disappointed in this trade. On his best day, he’s not a #3. Now, if they are still serious about Kazmir or someone else who would be a viable #3, having Niese has the #4 or #5 is okay. #3 – Unless the Pirates are going to give Hansen a legitimate shot at second base in 2016, I don’t see how shuffling Kang and Harrison around to fill the void left by Walker improves the infield defensively.

  28. Found an interesting stat:

    Since 2011

    Pitcher A – ERA 3.83, FIP 4.14, xFIP 3.76, fWAR 8.9

    Pitcher B – ERA 3.79, FIP 3.78, xFIP 3.70, fWAR 10.5

    Pitcher A is Mike Leake and Pitcher B is Jon Niese.

    • I was never a Leake fan – always thought he was grossly overrated.
      So, not surprised by those two numbers – both mediocre NL pitchers.

  29. I don’t think people on this board understand what’s happening with the cost of SP. Niese is a 3/4 SP with comparable (maybe better) career numbers than Mike Leake. People are talking about Leake getting something like 5 years at $15M a year. We have Niese for 3/$30M.

    • And since when has it ever been the Pirates goal to pay free agent prices?

      Just like Charlie Morton, Niese is not a payroll killer. But he’s also not helping you win the NL Central.

      • I’m not saying it’s their goal, but they have to get pitching from somewhere. The prices are increasing so that makes Niese’s value higher.

        • And did they have to give up two wins and a draft pick for the “priveledge” of marginally lower prices? No. They didn’t.

          • How did they give up a draft pick? Because if you’re saying the keep Walker and extend him a QO, I think there’s a great chance he takes the $15M or whatever it is next year. You can’t assume you’re getting a draft pick there.

            • And you can’t assume that Niese is even a #5 next year. Daniel Murphy is a Neil Walker clone, just turned down the QO, and still has a market. But you’re right, they’d probably screw up that decision just like Burnett.

              • Since he’s not even 30 yet, and he was roughly a #4/5 last year in his worst season, I think it’s a fairly safe bet that he’s at least a #5 with the upside of a #3 (which is roughly what he was before the down year).

                Walker, likewise, has upside of a great hitting second baseman (who is not good defensively), but like Niese, a risk that injury history will limit his productivity.

                It’s a remarkably fair deal.

                • I think it’s a good deal for both teams, but it’ll be interesting to see what NH’s plan is for 2B. Is he counting on Kang being healthy? Alen Hanson? Something nobody has thought of? I just hope SRod isn’t the plan…

            • I agree w this 100%. People never bring up that he will get a QO next year if not traded and there’s a great chance he will accept it to stay. The FO would know this.

  30. Neise is a bum!! He couldn’t even stay in a rotation last year and he is now your number 3. Now you also lose all the offensive production of walker and pedro. But at least they sure up the rotation with a backend of neise morton and locke. So awful! Even better you get 3 awful years of neise so that’s a plus. Sad sad day for a pirate fan.

    • well keep in mind…Mets have best rotation in baseball. They traded Niese because their rotation depth is ridiculously deep. He’s better than Locke, has had better numbers than Morton. He’s a solid #4.

  31. Wouldn’t be as pissed about this if NH hadn’t said he needed to be blown away to make a Walker trade. No way Niese and only Niese blows anybody away. Clearly a salary dump. Now down 50 HR’s from last year with no improvement elsewhere… Happ delivered better for us than Niese did in NY last year.

    • And Happ sucked until Searage got his hands on him. Why don’t you wait and see what Niese can do with Searage in PNC park.

      • Same thing I said! The move was always intended to be a pitcher(or prospects) and I wonder if it might of still happened if we signed Happ. Kazmir was never gonna happen which everyone knows and im assuming the Pirates didn’t trust Happ w a 2-3 year deal bc he was only a few million more over Neises remaining contract.

      • Not due all of that money, only due what he makes next year.

        From the teams standpoint, him sucking next year= using his buyout to release him.

        Its not a salary dump beyond roughly 1 million, but they do now owe him 30 million unless they choose to pay him that.

      • Because of going ahead, nothing is guaranteed as Luke has pointed out. WTF is so hard to figure out about that ? Happ has been guaranteed all of the length of his contract.

    • It’s not a salary dump. Salary is staying stable, but Niese has more controlled years than Walker…..

      That’s why the Mets thought the asking price was high.

  32. Don’t look now, the Cards are talking to another Pirate killer Johnny Cueto. I hope everyone enjoys the year off in 2016

  33. I’m gonna withhold judgement. The Pirates are very good at identifying undervalued pitchers. We were all underwhelmed with Happ and Volquez. Nobody had any idea Melancon would turn into the dominant force he is. I trust management.

    • we didn’t give up 2.6 war straight up for any of them either. Big fan of NH and not the biggest of Walker’s but clearly he could have done better. Ditching Alvarez for nothing burns as well.

      • Thank you. Nailed it.

        The Pirates traded for Nieses potential, not his actual value. This is the opposite of a Huntington move.

        • I think there is merit to the Pirates just being hell bent on dealing Neil. That said I think the fact tha niese’ options are team controlled factors in here. If niese pitches well then bucs have a value arm If he doesn’t they cut him loose and no obligation for 2017. It’s a reasonable risk -reward scenario. You then can analyze if they could’ve gotten better return for walker… Not sure. And then finally you can analyze if they were better to just hold onto walker for 2016. That is probably yes but I will wait until all the deals are done. IMHO the move would’ve been walker to 1b for 2016.

    • Problem is all those guys had stuff you could work with. Niese doesn’t. He’s a soft tosser who can’t miss bats. Searage can’t add +3 mph to his fastball……. If he does he’ll have Jeff Locke’s fastball. Not a move I thought NH would make.

  34. I’ve been arguing with the doubter/haters for years. This is first offseason in many years I think we have really made some suspect moves. Maybe there is a lot more to come. I sure as hell hope so.

          • Neise stinks!!! Would you pay locke 30 mil over 3 years is that reasonable. He had 1.40 whip and couldn’t stay in a rotation and is now your number 3! Is that reasonable

          • Again, for who?

            The Pirates cannot value wins the same as high revenue teams. *if* Niese rebounds to a 2 win pitcher he’s fine, but if the Pirates are going to put 10% of payroll into a player I want upside. Niese has none.

            • He makes Morton money, but is more durable and better. That’s the cost of pitching. The only reason he’ll make 10% of the payroll is that the team has an abnormally low budget.

              • Again, whose decision was that? The Pirates! Your logic right now is strange. None of us could care less about Niese I’ll individually, we’re talking about his place on the club.

                • I’m not sure where you want to find ‘value’. I mean, the team has it with Liriano and Cole, but with the floor price of FA pitching, I’m going to guess that even a respectable reclamation project is going to cost $8M.

                  I don’t think Niese carries the same risk as a rebuild. He’s been solid for a half a decade and had a down year. Paying an extra $1M for a guy who, hopefully, just needs tweaking is preferable.

                  • Fine then pay the $8m for a reclamation *with upside* and still keep a two win player. This just does not make sense.

                    • I can tell you’re pissed about this one, my friend.

                      The problem, from my perspective, is that if the reclamation project bombs…you’ve tied up 8.5% of your payroll in garbage.

                      Perhaps I’m just a bit more optimistic about Niese, but I think he’ll be solid and carry little risk. As well, any other pitcher that the Pirates do acquire will now be bumping Locke and not going into an empty slot.

                    • He has a proven track record (other than last year). I wouldn’t even call him a reclamation project. There’s certainly room for improvement, but if he gets back to 2012-2014 form, this will be a great trade.

                    • See this is what I don’t understand.

                      I thought we were supposed to “trust” the reclamation process? And for good reason. The one thing the reclamations had in common was upside. Every one of them. Niese does not. Paying for mediocrity.

                      I see no urgency to actually *upgrade* this baseball team. None.

                    • Nah, the projects are that.

                      Richard didn’t work out, neither did Liz. Frieri? Jonathan Sanchez?

                      Everybody forgets Sanchez…

                      I’m with you on the team upgrading itself…and you can make the argument that this is a lateral move, the rotation has been upgraded and the batting order downgraded. At least for 2016.

                      But the off-season doesn’t end with one move…and I have no idea if the Pirates will do something to upgrade the offense. If they do, this goes from being a draw to the team having gotten better.

          • He also isnt guaranteed for all 3, which helps his value. He comes out and sucks next year? One year suck and total loss in the trade.

            He comes out and show a pre 2015 form? A fringe 3-4 type who you have no trouble going year to year with in his options.

  35. Now I’m upset we didn’t sign Happ. Steamer has Niese at 1.2 WAR, Locke at 1.8. I’m not placing a ton of value on his 2 options. I would have much rather gone 3/36 for Happ and kept NW in lineup for one more year. WTF is our infield now. Below replacement Mike Morse, ?? at 2b, Mercer (.7 Steamer) at SS and Jhay at 3b to start the season. Have A LOT of work left to do NH

  36. There wasn’t a better time to trade Walker. NH waiting until Zobrist was off the board and all the Zobrist losers were ready to move to Plan B. NH timed it perfectly, and Niese was the best we could do. What exactly was everybody expecting for one year of a poor fielding 2B who can’t hit LHP?

  37. My day is officially ruined neise is a bum. Our number 3 now couldn’t even stay in a rotation last year. Way to “only will trade walker or melancon in a deal that will improve team in 2016 and beyond” OK neal.

    • definitely agree. Can’t be just Niese for Walker. Niese is less than Happ and we are taking on Niese’ salary.

  38. Neal has lost a lot of power in this lineup. He has to find a bat or two to make up for the loss of Walker and Alvarez. Cutch and Marte cannot be all the real power we have.

      • This must be why we’ve heard in recent days that Kang is ahead in his recovery. The early part of the season has been our Achilles heel the last couple of years so it is paramount that Kang is ready to roll come April, IMO.

  39. Trade Walker for a low salary. Prospect whatever. Then use the money saved from Pedro, Walker, JA and AJ to sign 2 good SPs. Kazmir and Maeda say. It works out pretty even. Don’t sign a number 5 when you can get a number 2.

    • I must say I am stunned. An offensive-minded second baseman only nets us a soft-tossing lefty with a history of arm problems. Can we fast forward to 2017? I am not a big fan of Niese at all.

      • I’m not thrilled if this is it, but its not a terrible trade. Niese is not a bad pitcher. He’s cost controlled. I’d definitely take him over Locke and maybe over Morton.

        • wow. terrible deal. less than 6k per nine. almost 3 walks per nine. fip worse than his era. over 9h per nine and 1hr per 9. also would mean Kazmir would be out… no way we have 4 lefty starters.

    • eh he’s better than Locke. I’ll give Niese more credit than that. He’s a solid #4 on most teams. Morton level I’d say.

  40. I’ll be okay with Niese as long as he is our #4 and Morton or Locke our #5. Unfortunately, I have a bad feeling it will be Niese, Morton, Locke filling the 3, 4, and 5 spots.

  41. Kristie Ackert ‏@Ackert_NYDN 25s26 seconds ago
    #Mets talking to the #Pirates about Neil Walker. As of an hour ago, asking price was too high, according to #Mets source

    Good job NH!…push these teams to overpay.

  42. Tim wrote: “Niese posted a 3.40 ERA in both 2012 and 2014”.

    Those number remind me more of Francisco Liriano than Jeff Locke.

  43. Well its always good if multiple teams are interested. I will hate to lose Walker but if we can fill a need then Pirates must do it. I like the idea of giving Hanson a real shot

    • I don’t mind the idea of Niese…his numbers make him look like a better, but left-handed, version of Charlie Morton…except more durable.

      The Pirates could do a lot worse than having he and Charlie holding down the 4 and 5 spots…and I don’t think they’ll get a ton more for Walker.

  44. The Nats just made an offer to Mike Leake. I wonder if they are lining up to trade a pitcher to the Pirates. Walker and additional pieces for Strasburg?

  45. Would it not be easier and more efficient to trade one of our OF studs for an actual good first baseman, preferably Polanco, and just let Bell go back to the OF? Was Ball bad in the OF? Not sure who we could bring back, maybe Freeman? I just don’t think we should be limited to 1 year guys.

  46. I dislike the idea of trading Walker – not because he is from Pgh – because I feel losing Burnett and Walker is a big hit to the chemistry in one year. Having said that if we can get a #3 starter or better for at least two years control, I would do it.

  47. Still scratching my head about the Mets being interested. They have a very fine 21 year old at AAA with power and speed who’s beaten the cover off the ball in minors.

    If Walker goes to NY, I’d like to get that guy as part of the trade.

      • As much as everyone dislikes Morton, he is more portent to the Pirates right now than a platoon 1B. Trade Morton and you are now looking at finding a number 3 and 4 along with some insurance for an early season injury

      • Morton is a decent COST CONTROLLED pitcher. With the prices of SP right now I’d want WAY more than Moreland for him. Moreland and Profar maybe….Even everyone’s favorite Locke has value. Think about this, if they both have nice years, and they are certainly capable, and Tallion and Glasnow come up and are as advertised, imagine their value next year.

        • You are not getting more than Moreland for Morton – I would be thrilled if the Rangers accepted that straight up just to get Morton out of town and out of the rotation.

  48. Walker to the Angels for Santiago. Better pitcher than Kazmir. Younger. Cheaper. I hope the Angels will go for it. I am calling them now.

  49. Hector Santiago seems like a decent young arm, but he also seems alot like Charlie or Jeff Locke – short outings with poor control and faded down the stretch. Just Sayin.

  50. Doesn’t trading walker just create another hole similar to our first base situation? Our best option would be a AAA unproven prospect and you know NH isn’t calling him up out of spring training so we will have to sign someone to start and that someone can NOT be SRod.

    The only way this goes down is if we can get a massive haul for Walker, which I don’t see happening.

    This off-season could potentially end as a disaster. Anxious to see how NH and Co. handle things.

  51. I dont think Huntington will make a bad deal here. I trust him. Sometimes its to his detriment, but he usually never likes to be on the perceived losing end of a deal. He wants to “win” the deal.

  52. I think Walker would be even more valuable if they would have extended him like they should have. Imagine what kind of deal could be made if he was still under control for 2-3 years after this one.

    • agreed, but they dont think that way. Just like tendering Alvarez, they worry if they make commitments like that perhaps they may be stuck with them.

        • Are you serious ???? This team has averaged 93 wins over the past 3 seasons, and a nobody is going to tell us that ” they don’t value their assets properly ” ? You need to get real.

      • They also have potential replacements coming in the next year in Hansen and maybe Moroff. Plus Harrison could play there. I think this is the biggest reason they didn’t extend Walker (also his age).

        • I’m fine with not extending him, just saying that’s theyre thinking versus signing then trading. Its too risky for them I think. I’m not as sold on Hanson as some people are. His numbers are decent, but he’s not going to provide the same power Walker has…which is a large part of the reason teams are interested in the first place. 2nd base home run power is a valuable asset.

    • Not sure you could pick up some of his contract since he is currently undergoing the arbitration process? Not sure how that works.

        • If it gets us a better tier player/players in return then pull that trigger. Seems like the administration has always been good with shipping off money vs. prospects in the past…Almost seems like an easy decision since he is in his last year of control do what you can to absolutely maximize the return.

  53. The Dodgers are interested as well. Package him with Melancon before the Chapman deal gets done. Van Slyke and some prospects.

  54. its going to be CJ Wilson as part of the package. Theyre trying to dump him. Theyd probably cover alot of his salary.

      • He’s still a decent pitcher. Frankly for me to get this deal done. it would need to be both Wilson and Santiago. Otherwise, no deal.

        • at a mininum it would have to be more than one pitcher…maybe a position player, but it cant be an even swap 1 for 1. NH has the leverage in this situation, he needs to use it and get maximum value.

          • then no deal, in my opinion, unless theres an overpay by some team for Walker, then NH shouldnt trade him. NH has said they dont need to trade him. I think we would all be fine keeping him. The offer needs to be really solid to make this happen.

  55. Seems more like we’re dismantling a 98 win team than adding pieces to get over the top…
    PRNW is a good player and we’ll miss the clutch AB’s he delivered. I guess I’m ok with seeing him go, but after seeing what Castro just brought – which is more valuable IMO, are we looking at a pretty good swingman as a return? Would be tough to swallow that.

    • Castro was an absolute salary dump, as they wanted to clear a spot for Zobrist. We are less motivated to move walker than they were to move Castro

        • His salary was actually viewed as very team friendly, like 3 for 30 or something…. the Yanks were thrilled to get a player like Castro for a relief pitcher. Taking a page out of the PBC book.

        • The deal definitely made a lot more sense for the Cubs than the Yankees. I don’t think Castro’s that big an upgrade over their middle infield options.

          Of course part of that is because I’m just a huge Sir Mariekson Julius “Didi” Gregorious, Order of Orange Nassau fan.

        • Warren is a tweener guy….Castro, so they weren’t going to pay him that amount to sit the bench….so it isn’t a salary dump like the Ramierez trade to the Cubs years age, but they were more pressed to trade him than we are to trade Walker

        • For all the “we cant get over the hump, gotta pay more to win” talk, its amazing those people dont also get all over Walker (and Marte’s) case for being a large reason we didnt beat STL.

          Be nice to get something more than like 1-40 from two key offensive players.

          • not to disagree but that is the same thing they said about Bonds and Bonilla. Look what happened after we lost them both. 🙂

  56. Beer Temple: Sources: #Angels have “very serious” interest in #Pirates Neil Walker. #Dodgers also interested, though maybe to lesser degree.

      • Did Howie Kendrick not get Andrew Heaney last year??? Walker is a significantly better alternative to the NATS than to have to overpay for Murphy or Kendrick on deals similar to Zobrist. Melancon is arguably the best closer on the market!?!? Joe Ross had an average year last year and AJ Cole is unproven

        • What stats are you looking at? Joe Ross was one of the best rookie pitchers in baseball even though he only started 13 games. His FIP was 3.42 and his K/BB was 3.29. He was worth 1.4 WAR in those 13 starts. Dude is 22 years old. I think the Nats would rather overpay in dollars than in prospects.

          • so maybe I understated his contributions for the year. he’s still not better than Shelby Miller right now. Further, it’s a matter of preference. Some GM’s hoard prospects while other GM’s prefer to use those prized prospects as trade pieces to fill out their championship contending teams. Pirates should not settle for anything less than Andrew Heaney like which is the precedent for this scenario. Make it Walker for AJ Cole then.

            • One year of Neil Walker isn’t worth 6+ years of AJ Cole. If the Nats take that, they are morons, and I will dance for joy.

              • its not really only 1 year of Walker. It’s 1 yr. of Walker or 4-5 years of Daniel Murphy or Howie Kendrick at elevated prices. Because if you don’t trade for Walker, then what’s left out there?? Murphy, Kendrick looking for final big deals. Again, what’s more important known and documented on-field production in the big leagues or 6 years of unproven and untested MLB prospect?? They’re in a battle for the division, they better step it up. I’m selling high on Walker and Melancon.

                • That’s not the way the MLB landscape is currently. No team is trading a top prospect for 1 year of a mediocre 2B with a temperamental back. Here’s a great article by a great writer about trade values: http://grantland.com/features/2014-mlb-trade-value-rankings-part-1/
                  Here’s another: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2015-trade-value-the-full-list/
                  A top prospect with 6+ years of control is worth more than just about every player with one year to go before free agency. Prospects are currency and I don’t think those teams will need to overpay to get Murphy or Kendrick.

                  • I guess then we’d have to disagree on our definition of a top prospect. Last year, Kendrick got moved for Heaney. AJ Cole is a good prospect not a top prospect like for example Lucas Giolito or Glasnow or Taillon for that matter. He’s more like a Nick Kingham.

                    • It’s all relative. AJ Cole was ranked as the Nats 6th best prospect on MLB.com at seasons end. I think Kendrick is valued higher than Walker nationally. Walker may be even with Kendrick right now but Kendrick had some better peak years. I think most teams would value Kendrick more than Walker based overall body of work.

      • Neither of those two pitchers are in the same continent (not stratosphere) as Shelby Miller. Shelby Miller I think pitched 200+ innings last year on a terrible Braves team with an ERA just over 3 (3.02 if I heard correctly). If he had won some games, that was CY young top 10 potential.

        • Joe Ross’ FIP was 3.42 in his rookie year. Shelby Miller’s was 3.45 last year and that was his best ever by almost half a run. Joe Ross’ K/BB was 3.29. Miller’s was 2.39. I hate to say it but I think Joe Ross is a better pitcher than Shelby Miller right now.

          • Joe Ross pitched in 76.2 innings last year with an ERA of over 3.65
            In almost 3X the amount of innings, Shelby Miller had an ERA of 3.02 on a Braves team that struggled all year long. Half a run lower with 3X the amount of innings. Who’s the better pitcher????

            • Are you really using ERA? ERA means jack. ERA has everything to do with how good the defense is behind the player. FIP takes into account only what the pitcher has control over. Joe Ross had a lower FIP than Shelby Miller and higher K rate and a lower walk rate. If you look you at the stats aside from ERA (which is the same as judging a hitter based on RBI’s) you’ll see that Joe Ross had much peripherals than Shelby Miller. It’s not Ross’ fault that Shelby Miller had Antrelton Simmons behind him. With all due respect to Shelby Miller, who pitched his ass off last year, Joe Ross is a better pitcher currently with better stuff and will be a better pitcher next year as well.

              • Wins mean jack! ERA still matters along with other stats but your comparing 76.2 innings total to over 205.2 innings and trying to extrapolate his numbers over 3X more. Doesn’t work. When Joe Ross pitches that amount of innings with those same numbers then you can make that argument, until then the sample size is too small relative to Shelby Miller and his statistics.

                • Like Chapman v. Melancon. Melancon is every bit the closer that Chapman is and results over the last 3 years prove it.
                  I’ll take proven results over 205.2 innings over projected results in 205.2 innings -76.5 actual innings 7 days of the week. Until Joe Ross proves it over 205.2 innings Shelby Miller is the better pitcher.

                • Alright, I’ll give that. The sample sizes may not compare but remember that Ross spent the first 3 months in the minors and advanced 3 levels. Shelby Miller is a good #3 but Joe Ross has the ceiling of an ace. With Zimmerman gone and Strasburg likely gone after next year, Cole and Ross are the Nats future. Trading Ross for Walker would be like the Pirates trading Jameson Taillon for Walker which I just wouldn’t do.

                  • ok. fair points. you’re a little higher on Joe Ross than I am. I think Shelby Miller could also be a #2 type pitcher in this league especially now in Arizona. Taillon v. Ross is difficult because of the last 2 years missed but I do think a healthy Taillon could be a much more dominant pitcher in the mold of Gerrit Cole.
                    The Nats another prized pitching prospect who the value much higher whose name is escaping me.
                    Maybe Ross is too much but based on the Heaney-Kendrick deal, I do think AJ Cole for Walker is at least more than plausible

      • The Miller trade will not inflate the market and does not reflect the commonly perceived value of the players involved. The trade was so bad that it stands as an outlier. The only way that trade alters the market is to have the Dodgers and Giants consider it a threat to their chances of reaching the postseason, and then to act accordingly. The Dodgers would need to offer two or three of their top prospects for Matt Harvey or Jose Fernandez or Chris Sale or… The Dodgers will not likely take that path. The Giants lack the prospects.

    • Nats really want to rid themselves of Drew Storen. I’d trade Walker him if they’d accept. Makes trading Melancon an easier decision.

  57. We obviously aren’t going to get any of their prized young arms for Walker, but I kind of like the idea of a 1 for 1 Walker for Jon Niese deal. I think that’s fair.

    • That would be a horrible deal IMO you save no money and hurt your offense more than you help your pitching. Neise is getting 9 million this year with 500K buyout for 17 and 18.

        • They need a starter and can probably replace walker easier than getting a starter. Not that hard to comprehend

          • I comprehend it fine. I just think the salary coming back is a factor. Reading Sawchik sounded like it was part of their motivations for putting him and Melancon on the block.

        • Because Neise is worth more than 9, but walker is not worth more than 10. That’s how. Its a matter of value and 2 more years of control

            • I mean this isn’t really an issue of agree or disagree- they made a move and and it has a net financial gain of a little savings and 2 extra years of control for a lefty starter- so it’s a positive move- just looking at it in space, you are getting more WAR on average total, and about the same production for 2015.

              • Again, I don’t understand that logic. Whether you want to use the eye test, traditional or advanced stats, Niese doesn’t come close to replacing what they lost with Burnett and Happ.

                • I don’t really understand your logic- you aren’t looking at the deal, you are looking at the team, and that logic makes no sense considering we have 3 months before spring training. All you should be looking at is- did we get more value back than we traded, and the answer is yes. Niese is a pretty good replacement for Happ actually. Kazmir or Latos would be a replacement for Burnett- Niese is a #4 which pushes Morton to a #5 pitcher. Onto the next move….

    • Aim higher. They’re legit playoff contenders in need of a 2nd baseman unless they wanna OVERPAY Daniel Murphy or Howie Kendrick on a long term deal.

    • I’d consider it, but frankly for Huntington to make this deal palatable not only for the fans but for making the better for next year and beyond they need to get an overpay by some team whether its the Mets or Angels or whoever. Unless NH gets an absolute robbery for Walker, I dont think he should make the trade.

          • Why, what is the comparison??? Walker is average at best, just like Pedro as both disappeared against front line pitching and playoffs. This was not a salery dump as both contracts are near equal it was a player dump just like Pedro. In Walker I looked passed the fluff like the smile, Pgh. Kid, always said the right things, and the charity work. That is all well in good but does not count once in the batters box. Comparing Walker to Kendall is a joke. Walker can only dream to be compared to Kendall.

            • I agree with everything you said except Pedro hitting in playoffs, overall Pedro & Martin was only ones who did anything in the playoffs hitting wise

  58. Dear Santa,
    For Christmas i would like only 2 things.
    1.) Someone to drastically overpay for Neil Walker
    2.) Someone to drastically overpay for Mark Melancon

    Thank You

    • Unfortunately, I don’t think either thing will happen. The overall demand for 2nd basemen doesn’t seem that strong and I hear lots of other closers being mentioned ahead of Melancon.

      • The costs of good relief pitching seems to be on the rise. Good and bad for the pirates. Good for trading Melancon, bad because they still need an arm or two (unless they think Webster and Rondon or some failed MiLB starter can be the guy)

    • What ever god the Braves prayed to before the Shellby Miller deal, we should be praying to before MM and PGH Kid get delt.

      • ok then. We walk and let then overpay for Daniel Murphy or Howie Kendrick on deals similar to Ben Zobrist instead of a 1 year 10 million dollar deal on Neil Walker who BTW is a better overall player than the other 2

        • What other 2 are you talking about? You could potentially make an argument that Walker is better than Murphy due to his power but Walker is not a better player than Kendrick or Zobrist. He’s not.

          • Walker is better than Murphy and Kendrick is better than Walker in what metrics?? Its probably even up. however, to get Murphy or Kendrick they’re looking for deals like Zobrist. Walker is a 1 year deal to see what you’re buying before you pony up. We’re talking about the Mets here.

            • Murph just put on quite a show in the playoffs and isn’t a whole lot different than Walker defensively. It’s about $.
              Both are probably worth about $10-$12 mil a year and Walker is the only one who’s going to play for that $ this coming year.

          • Walker was better than Kendrick last year. Kendrick has a better 3 year run. Steamer likes Walker better next year.

            It’s not clear cut to me that Kendrick will be better than Walker in 2016.

            • It’s not clear cut to me either. Kendrick is better defensively and has been more durable. With prospects being currency nowadays. If I were a larger market, I’d rather shell out the cash for 3 or 4 years of Kendrick than overpay in prospects for 1 year of Walker.

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